Sunday, June 24, 2007

Vice Presidential Option #1: Chris Dodd

Chris Dodd had a busy day yesterday--two house parties, a major policy speech, a mural painting, and a volunteer action day event. I joined a number of others at the home of New Hampshire State Senator Lou D'Allesandro for a uniquely New Hampshire candidate lawn party to have a chance to meet him. The youthful organizers of this event and the Dodd NH people were some of the most cheerful and attentive campaign staff of any of the candidates I've seen so far and the crowd that assembled to hear the Senator from Connecticut was diverse, concerned, motivated, and knowledgeable.

Dodd's speech covered his initiatives for solving the challenges posed by global warming as well as his new proposal for increasing national service in America. The latter being a continuation of the speech he gave earlier in the day in Nashua. Dodd's proposal lays out 6 ways of increasing service such as a mandatory 100 hours of community service for every high school student, a doubling of the Peace Corps, and a Senior Heroes Program which rewards senior citizens who volunteer in schools with a small payment towards the cost of education for their grandchildren or relatives. The proposal that stuck me as being one of the best was Dodd's idea of a Rapid Response Corp of citizens to assist in emergency and disaster response--a role that used to be played by the National Guard before they became active duty combat troops under the current administration.

It's these types of ideas that set Dodd apart from the rest of the Democratic presidential field. Dodd's proposals for ending the Iraq war and solving the energy crisis and dealing with global warming were well thought-out and were soon imitated or followed by the other candidates. Similar to what he said in his speech, don't you think they'll follow him on his national service proposal as well?

To be fair, bits and pieces of Dodd's proposals have been taken up by the current Congress. For instance, increases in the fuel standards for American automobiles. But none of these proposals have taken into account all of the factors that contribute to the many difficulties posed by changes to the current energy policies. Some of these difficulties include the cost of researching alternative energy technologies and the high cost of paying for new energy sources for all Americans. Dodd uses the idea of a carbon tax to provide for billions of dollars in funding for technology research as well as tax incentives for families and companies that invest in new energy sources.

Chris Dodd made the point that John F. Kennedy, the man that inspired him to serve his country in the Peace Corps, spoke on the same steps in Nashua where Dodd spoke yesterday. While Dodd's ideas provide for significant changes in the field of national service, Dodd's personality is less dynamic than Kennedy's. Vice presidents are often the figures that quietly churn out brilliant ideas before passing them on to the president to act on them, but they need not be the most poignant and persuasive characters of their time. Dodd's poll numbers suggest an almost impossible road ahead in terms of the presidential primaries, but his creative solutions and sensible leadership are desperately needed in America, and we'd be lucky to have someone like him on the Democratic ticket as a vice president.

(all photos: © 2007 by Luke N. Vargas. All Rights Reserved.)

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